The Christmas Fake Book
slumps a little, limp
beneath the piano light,
looking a bit leftover
this december twenty-sixth–
as if it could not hark
to one more herald angel,
little town of Bethlehem or
It has served well
the eye, the ear,
the memory in the fingers
dancing on the keys.
It has sustained the loud,
who gathered here to sing
those half-remembered verses
come to haunt again this year.
Now it’s done,
like christmas day itself–
all noise and wonder
packed in a small space.
It will go back
to live among the sheaves
of music on a shelf, there
at the very bottom of the stack,
to take its usual place.
. THE CHRISTMAS FAKE BOOK
Choosing among apples at the supermarket
just the other day I heard
Bing Crosby singing “Jingle Bells.”
Background music so I’m told
can motivate a buyer in a store.
But Bing? Bing Crosby? This must be
the day marked shopping day for us
I say to a green pyramid of Granny Smiths.
And sure enough here comes a busload
slowly from the home for seasoned citizens.
I doubt the muzak moves them any faster
though most likely they’ll remember Bing.
Bing Crosby, ah, Bing Crosby,
how you crooned and nanna swooned
how you spun inside the gramophone
seventy-eight revolutions per minute
dreaming of a White Christmas just like
the ones you used to know. Was that how
I came to think of Christmas mostly as a longing?
Strange and difficult to satisfy. I try
to re-create the pleasures of the past
(and leave the woundings out), but it’s a task
unfestive, one I’m loathe to be about.
All I hear are someone’s memories.
All I see grows gaudier, each year
more desperate to enforce the thing.
All I want is willingness to let the night be dark
(except for stars), dear friends, these apples
red and green, and (maybe) just a bit of Bing.
‘Tis of thee, ’tis of thee, ’tis of thee,
of thee I sing, sweet heart,
my pith, my mind, my core,
my courage and my coeur de chant. We are the whole damn chorus coming down
raining sad songs for all the weary world.
My tympanist, my diastolic, my systolic dance,
my own hell-heaven, coloratura and my profundo.
Let’s sing our opera in Italian so
we move ourselves to tears, and join the flow…
che faro senza Euridice?
dov’ andro senza il mio ben?
Sweet heart of many gratis blessings,
passion and compassion when they come,
only hum for one more time the aria
piu succorso, piu speranza
ne d’al mondo, ne d’al ciel….
but please, dear heart, don’t go with Orfeo.
Let singing be ablution, water be the gift of tears.
Let memory remain where it belongs–
only a part of the wholehearted song.
And let us rise out of this place—
grab a towel now, begin to climb—
into the wilderness and music of emerging time.